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Callus – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A callus is a condition that forms as thickened layers of skin due to the response of repeated friction, pressure, and irritation. Calluses are commonly found on the feet and hands but can also occur anywhere on the skin. Calluses are like corns that can also occur in the same way.

Treatment for corns and calluses are required only if the person feels any discomfort, and most people try to eliminate the source of friction, which makes them disappear. However, patients with diabetes or any other condition resulting in poor blood flow to the feet are at greater risks of complications. It is imperative to have proper medical attention, which is usually required for people having such conditions.

What is the difference between callus and corn?

Callus Corn
It is a part of the skin that thickens due to friction or pressure. A type of callus that is made of dead skin is called corn.
They are yellowish or pale in color and lumpy to touch. Hard corns are small and thick, whereas soft corns are white and have a rubbery texture.
Calluses are found to be bigger and wider than corns. Corns are small and circular with a defined center that may be hard or soft.

What are the causes of a Callus?

Repetitive pressure and friction on a specific skin area are the lead cause of the occurrence and growth of calluses and corns. Some of the common sources of friction and pressure include: 

  • Avoiding socks with sandals and shoes can increase the friction of the footwear with your feet, especially if you wear ill-fitting socks.
  • Calluses on the hands are usually a result of using hand tools, continuous writing, and repeated pressure from playing musical instruments. 
  • Wearing high heels and tight-fitting shoes can put pressure on your feet. If your footwear is loose, it can cause your feet to repeatedly rub against any stitch or seam inside it, leading to calluses.

 What are the symptoms of a callus?

Corns and calluses make a person feel like they are walking on stones. The following are signs and symptoms – 

  • A hardened and raised bump. 
  • Waxy, dry, or flaky skin. 
  • A rough and thick skin area. 
  • Pain and tenderness under the skin. 

If the callus becomes painful and releases any liquid, the patient must seek immediate medical advice, as it can mean that the callus area is infected. In addition, patients who have diabetes, peripheral neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease need to be very careful about callus.

How is callus diagnosed in a patient?

The doctor will check the feet and rule out warts and cysts as possible reasons for thicker skin. An X-ray might be requested if a physical anomaly produces the corn or callus.

What are the risk factors associated with a Callus?

Certain factors may increase the risk of occurrence or recurrence, including:

  • Hammertoe – It is a deformity in which the toe gets curled up like a claw. 
  • Bunion – A bunion is a bony and abnormal bump that occurs on the joint at the base of the big toe. 
  • Other foot deformities – Foot deformities such as a bone spur can lead to constant rubbing of the skin inside your footwear, leading to a callus. 
  • Not protecting the hands – Using hand tools and instruments without proper protective covering can expose your skin to constant friction and pressure, increasing the risk of a callus.

When should one see a doctor for a callus?

If the person is healthy and the calluses are not giving too much discomfort, then the person does not need expert treatment. However, there are several circumstances in which one should seek the advice of a foot specialist: 

  • If one has diabetes or any condition that weakens the immunity, nerve health and weakened circulation. 
  • Experiences pain and difficulty doing regular activity. 
  • Corns and calluses are occurring very often. 

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What are the treatments available for treating a callus that is painful or infected?

Corns and calluses are usually treated by wearing proper-fitting shoes and protective pads. However, if the condition persists, medical treatments can provide relief.

  • Trimming the excess skin – The doctor will pull down the thickened skin to prevent the pain. 
  • Callus-removing medication – A 40% salicylic acid patch can be applied. A pumice stone, nail file are other techniques suggested by doctors. 
  • Shoe inserts – The doctor may prescribe custom-made padded shoe inserts to prevent corns or calluses if the patient has an underlying foot abnormality. 
  • Surgery – The doctor may recommend surgery for calluses in rare instances.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Some home remedies and lifestyle changes can cure a callus or corn. One can try the following for preventing calluses and for relief:  

  • Use over-the-counter pads or liquid corn removers on the affected area. 
  • Soak your feet and hands in warm and soapy water. This helps soften the skin, making it easier to remove the callus or corn. 
  • Rub a callus or corn with a washcloth, emery board, nail file, or pumice stone to remove the layer of thickened skin. 
  • Apply moisturizer on the skin to keep it soft. 
  • Wear well-fitted, cushioned, and comfortable socks and shoes to minimize the possibility of any corn or callus.

What are the necessary precautionary measures to avoid a callus?

Following certain preventive measures can help you prevent corns and calluses’ growth. 

  • Wear non-medicated corn pads, bandages, and felt pads over the areas of your skin that are prone to friction. You can also use some lamb’s wool or a toe separator between your toes. 
  • While wearing a shoe, you must be able to wiggle your toes. Or you can get it stretched from a shoe shop to avoid friction and pressure on your feet. 
  • Wear gloves or cover your tool handles with covers or cloth tapes while using them.


As calluses result from friction and pressure against the skin, there are possibilities that this will return at any time. Continuous wear of poorly fitted shoes is the major cause of corns and calluses. Most corns and calluses can be managed at home, but the doctor can examine the feet and treat them if the patient is concerned.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Do calluses need to be removed?  

Calluses need not require professional treatment, but if it causes unbearable pain, the doctor may suggest removing the callus. Removing the source of friction like moleskin pads and other treatments can make the callus go away on its own. 

Do calluses grow back?  

The callus is a condition that occurs as a way of protecting the skin from high pressure and friction. If these conditions persist, the calluses will never stop returning. Even after certain treatments, the calluses may return due to the memory of the skin. 

Are calluses dead skin? 

A callus usually forms as a yellow, flat and dried layer of skin, often dead. It causes pain and is usually not comfortable to live with.

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The content is carefully chosen and thoughtfully organized and verified by our panel expert dermatologists who have years of experience in their field. We aim to spread awareness to all those individuals who are curious and would like to know more about their skin and beauty
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